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Google Smarthome Devices Caught Eavesdropping on Americans in Alarming Ways

‘Big Brother’ would be jealous.

As the digital world continues to meld with our everyday lives, Americans are growing rightfully concerned with the amount of privacy they are unwittingly acquiescing to some of the larger technology conglomerates that we interact with.

Facebook, Google, and Amazon are often considered the most brazen offenders, on account of the sheer ubiquitousness of their products.  These corporations are not merely making millions on the intended use for their platforms, but also through stealthy and worrisome surveillance features that collect data and sell it back to other corporations in order to better market themselves to us.

And, when it comes to adding a so-called “smarthome” device to your abode, there are serious concerns over just what information these products are gathering.

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In the case of Google’s sudden plunge into the world of home security, some are reporting that these devices are simply always on…even when we think they are not, and even when they aren’t supposed to be listening.

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Google announced support for the detection of “critical sounds” for paying subscribers of its Nest Aware home security subscription service in May. “Your Nest speakers and displays will notify you if a critical sound is detected, like a smoke alarm or glass breaking, by sending an alert to the Home app,” the company wrote in a blog post. “From there, you can hear an audio clip or listen live within the Home app to confirm the alarm.”

“A recent software update enabled these alerts on some of our speakers that didn’t have a subscription, but we’ve since rolled that back,” a Google spokesperson told Protocol last week. The spokesperson declined to comment on whether Google had any plans to bring the feature to users without subscriptions in the future. Google did announce Monday that ADT customers would get access to Nest Aware over time.

The fictional “Big Brother” of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 would be jealous.

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